Auntie Says, My Twisted Writer Brain…

Cancers Below the Belt–What You Need to Know

Did you Know April is Cancer Awareness Month?

Pic by me.

In Canada, we are reminded by the symbol of the daffodil. A spring flower of beauty, renewal, and new beginnings.

We’re reminded that things can be happening out of our sight and behind the scenes that we have no idea about.

One thing we do need to do is acknowledge change within our body as signs of possible problems.

For many, this is not a discussion they want to have or are comfortable reading, but it’s important and should be shared with those you hold dear.

This is a candid discussion about cancers below the waist…

FACT: I’m not a doctor so please feel free to seek further information–in fact, I encourage it.

I’m an Auntie who cares and wants you to grow and get old. This article may not be for you–and that’s okay–share it with someone who may need it.

Cancer can Strike Anyone

In 2020, Chadwick Boseman, the star of the Marvel movie The Black Panther and other great films, died from colon cancer at the age of 43! Like what? That’s crazy.

FACT: Colon cancer can strike male or female…it doesn’t care. There’s more information below.

He was an accomplished actor and private person. His legacy will live on, but he was taken way too young. For a list of his movie see HERE.

Boseman kept his diagnosis and cancer fight private and continued to work between surgeries and chemotherapy.

He leaves a long legacy with his work and made a true impact for African American fans who finally saw themselves being represented as a super hero.

Sadly, his passing leaves us with the reminder that cancer doesn’t care who, or how old, you are.

FACT: Cancer can strike at any age.

Today I want to discuss the down-there cancers.

The ones that can make you blush and perhaps make you feel a little uncomfortable when you’re thinking of talking about your private parts.

NOTE: I’m sharing this information as a writer and Auntie–not as a medical professional.

If you think anything could be wrong, please–seek medical attention as soon as possible. The main thing to remember is that no one is exempt and yes, it does happen to younger people.

One thing, only you can do, is to get to know your body.

Know how it reacts, what’s normal for you and what’s not.

Check your poop and bodily fluids. If there’s blood or something “different” (this could be color, frequency, shape, smell, amount…anything that’s off…) then go see your doctor.

The sooner you catch an abnormality, the better. Chances are it may be nothing, but don’t ignore it as it could be something.

Guys and Down-There Cancers

Testicular Cancer

As the Testicular Cancer Canada site says…

You need to grab testicular cancer by the balls.

Here’s a little anatomy lesson for you: The testicles are oval shaped glands which are housed inside a sac of skin called the scrotum which hangs below the penis. Testicles make sperm and testosterone. It’s normal for one ball to be slightly larger than the other. Find your normal.

Testicular cancer is the #1 cancer among young guys. Yet 62% of those who are most at risk don’t know how to check themselves. Good news is it’s easy.

The best thing you can do for your nuts is to give them a feel every month or so – get to know what’s normal for you. That way, if anything changes you can act on it.

See MOVEMBER for more info/stats/how-to

Know your normal shape so you can be aware if a change or a lump–no matter the size–appears on the testicles.

Here are some facts:

  • Testicular cancer is the most prevalent cancer in men aged 15 to 35, but it’s also among the most treatable when caught early.
  • It is actually the most common cancer in young men in Canada. It is also one of the most curable cancers. 
  • 1 in 250 guys will get this cancer in their lifetime.

If you find a lump on one of your testicles it’s imperative you seek medical attention. This is not a time to be embarrassed or shy because that lump could be cancer.

Guys! Read This Stuff… It Could Really Save Your Life.

“Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer in young men.”

It’s a subject matter that leaves many guys embarrassed. But if we lessen the stigma and get more guys talking about their nuts, well that’ll save many more lives.

In fact, if testicular cancer is caught early enough, men have a 97% chance of survival.

check out: #LetsTalkBalls

See more at Canadian National Cancer Institute: for more information, symptoms, what to watch for, and contact information. All the facts are there.

Basically what it comes down to is if you detect any lump on your testicles aka: balls, (which are housed in the scrotum aka: sac) then call the doctor. Look back at the facts:

Penile Cancer AKA Cancer of the Penis

The first noticeable symptom of penile cancer is typically a lump, mass, or ulcer on the penis.

It may look like a small, insignificant bump or a large, infected sore.

In most cases, it’ll be located on the head or foreskin instead of on the shaft of the penis.

Usually it strikes older guys…like 50+ but be aware of your body.

NOTE: If there’s a scab or ulcer, it may not be cancerous but you must get it treated for your own health and that of your partner.

Prostate Cancer

I know four men who’ve died in the last few years from prostate cancer.

This cancer can strike anyone with a prostate, including trans women and nonbinary id’d as male at birth.

It normally strikes later in life (50+) but is one that can be detected early.

Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer (Source: Canadian Cancer Society)

Family history of prostate cancer 

Black ethnicity (including African or Caribbean ancestry) 

Obesity or overweight 

Tall adult height 

Inherited gene mutations

FACT: Prostate cancer can be detected by a blood test and/or a physical test (aka: the white glove test). If you have a family history, talk to your doctor.

Male. Female. Anyone Can Get Anal Cancer

Anal Cancer.

This cancer is found is both men and women.

It’s not a cancer you hear of often. Whether that’s because of the nature of the disease or the location…who knows.

I do remember several years ago that Farrah Fawcett had anal cancer. She was one of the original Charlie’s Angels. The disease ultimately killed her even after treatment.

You can read more of her story HERE

Symptoms

Anal cancer signs and symptoms include:

  • Bleeding from the anus or rectum
  • Pain in the area of the anus
  • A mass or growth in the anal canal
  • Anal itching

Risk factors

Several factors have been found to increase the risk of anal cancer, including:

  • Older age. Most cases of anal cancer occur in people age 50 and older.
  • Many sexual partners. People who have many sexual partners over their lifetimes have a greater risk of anal cancer.
  • Anal sex. People who engage in receptive anal sex have an increased risk of anal cancer.
  • Smoking. Smoking cigarettes may increase your risk of anal cancer.
  • History of cancer. Those who have had cervical, vulvar or vaginal cancer have an increased risk of anal cancer.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV infection increases your risk of several cancers, including anal cancer and cervical cancer. HPV infection is a sexually transmitted infection that can also cause genital warts.
  • Drugs or conditions that suppress your immune system. People who take drugs to suppress their immune systems (immunosuppressive drugs), including people who have received organ transplants, may have an increased risk of anal cancer. HIV — the virus that causes AIDS — suppresses the immune system and increases the risk of anal cancer.

Source: Mayo Clinic Website.

NOTE: While you shouldn’t diagnose yourself, if you have the symptoms, go check with your doctor.

Colon Cancer or Colorectal Cancer: Both Male and Female.

This is a big one and you need to pay attention.

This is what killed Chadwich Boseman.

It is not a fun thing to talk about, but you need to be aware of what it’s all about. It is found in both men and women.

FACT: Both Men and Women can get colon cancer.

The colon is part of the large intestine leading to the rectum and then anus. (in other words…it’s part of your digestive system that leads to your rectum (inside) and then to the butt hole).

In this diagram you can see where the cancer is situated.

The name is either colon cancer or colorectal cancer. Often times both the rectum and colon are involved.

from SCNow.com

From the Canadian Cancer Society

Signs and Symptoms

  • diarrhea
  • constipation (you should poop every couple of days. If you’re taking a week or more to poop that is constipation and you need to eat some fiber)
  • stool (poop) that looks narrower than usual
  • feeling like the rectum is not completely empty after a bowel movement
  • bright or very dark red blood in the stool
  • bleeding from the rectum
  • gas, abdominal cramps and feeling bloated
  • pain or discomfort in the rectum (bum)
  • a lump in the abdomen or rectum
  • fatigue and weakness
  • anemia, which can cause fatigue and shortness of breath
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • a blockage in the intestine (called a bowel obstruction)
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • enlarged liver
  • jaundice
  • a buildup of fluid in the abdomen (called ascites) 
  • pain in the abdomen, back, buttocks or legs
  • breathing problems

With colorectal cancer there could be genetic or hereditary factors so it’s very important to know all your family history.

It is rare to strike before the age of 25 and is more common age 40 plus. Remember, Chadwick Boseman was only 43.

For More About Colon cancer RISKS Check HERE

A Word about HPV: Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV isn’t cancer but can cause cancer and a host of other issue. There are vaccines for HPV now available.

  • HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • HPV will affect an estimated 75% to 80% of males and females in their lifetime.
  • HPV can clear up on its own, but about 10%-20% will not clear the infection.
  • HPV could cause significant consequences: cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in females. Other types can cause genital warts in both males and females. There’s no way to predict who will or won’t clear the virus.
  • There are more than 40 HPV types that can infect males and females. They can infect the genital area, the mouth, and the throat.
  • Studies show that the burden of HPV infection is concentrated in younger women.
  • Most people who become infected do not even know they have HPV.

NOTE: Check HERE for more facts about HPV.

Down-There Cancers for Women and Girls

You also need be aware of colon and anal cancers. There are other things you need to watch for too. Namely…

Ovarian, Vulvar, Uterine, Cervical, and Vaginal cancers.

These usually strike women over 40 but there are cases with younger patients.

You need to be aware at any age and know your body. Here are some things to watch for:

  • bleeding from the vagina that isn’t normal (such as heavy or irregular bleeding, bleeding between periods), at any time, but especially after menopause
  • frequent discharge from the vagina that is clear, white or coloured with blood
  • a lump that can be felt in the pelvis or abdomen
  • bladder problems such as the need to urinate often and the urgent need to urinate
  • constipation
  • changes to digestion such as feeling full after a small meal, loss of appetite, heartburn, gas, indigestion or nausea
  • frequent feeling of pressure in the pelvis or abdomen
  • fatigue
  • pain in the legs, lower back, pelvis or abdomen
  • pain when having sex
  • swelling of the abdomen
  • weight loss
  • buildup of fluid in the abdomen (ascites), around the lungs (pleural effusion) or in the legs (lymphedema)
  • difficulty breathing

Risk factors include:

  • family history
  • endometriosis
  • smoking
  • obesity
  • using talc powder on genital area (never use any product internally and douches can upset the necessary bacteria in your vagina so should be avoided).

A Note For All

There are many things that can go wrong down there.

About ten years ago the HPV vaccine became the norm in schools when they do the measles/rubella/chicken pox boosters.

This can be a lifesaver.

Parents, if you choose not to vaccinate your children thinking they’re not going to have sex or will be fine, think again.

HPV can cause cancer or aggravate /exacerbate sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). You only have one body and an infection can not only wreak havoc on your health but also on your future as you’ll need to disclose your past to new partners–that is part of being responsible and mature–and could cause problems when you want to start a family.

Guys and Girls...There’s lots I could say about STDs, but will just give you some of the symptoms to watch for. If any of these show themselves you’re to get to a doctor immediately.

  • Clear, white, greenish or yellowish vaginal discharge.
  • Discharge from the penis.
  • Strong vaginal odor.
  • Vaginal itching or irritation.
  • Itching or irritation inside the penis.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Painful urination

Life is too short and needs to be lived. You really want to stay healthy and you do that through awareness and seeking help when required. And, for God’s sake, where a condom and practice safe sex.

Cancer Isn’t a Joke But You Can Get to Know You…

Be aware of the norms for your body.

I never want to hear of any of you becoming a statistic. It’s true that many cancers, when caught early, can be effectively treated. Don’t let the nature of the down there locations, keep you from saying something.

FACT: Remember I’m not a doctor, I’m just an Auntie who wants you to be well. Always seek medical advice and don’t wait…

Stay healthy. Be Safe.


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9 thoughts on “Cancers Below the Belt–What You Need to Know”

  1. Wow this post is filled with very important information. Colon cancer runs in my family, I have lost loved ones due to it. Thanks for posting this it is something everyone should read about and be aware of.

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